Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

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Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:35 pm

Greetings,

I have just received notification of a new Path Press Publication that will certainly be of interest to some amongst us...

Bhikkhu Akiñcano
With the Right Understanding
Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas
Buddhist meditation is usually taught as a set of techniques. Focus all your awareness on your breath. Feel the sensations in your body. And yet one cannot help but wonder: why do we not find these instructions in the Pali Suttas?

Instead of doing what the teachers recommend, what if we were to ask the following question: What are the underlying assumptions that are required in order for these meditation instructions to be intelligible? With this question we enter the domain of phenomenology. Enquiring in this way, it becomes clear that the Buddha’s teachings have been ‘naturalized’, hijacked by and incorporated within the modern scientific worldview that today reigns supreme. Furthermore, it becomes apparent how dangerous these assumptions are, for they obscure the fact that the Dhamma is entirely concerned with our understanding of things.

By (1) providing a close analysis of the Pāli Suttas and (2) adopting a phenomenological attitude and articulating this as explicitly as possible, drawing on the writings of influential phenomenological thinkers such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, this collection of essays gives priority to these two conditions for the arising of right view. Only with the right understanding can there be anything that deserves to be called ‘Buddhist meditation’.
The author, Bhikkhu Akiñcano (Nick Dwyer), entered the bhikkhusaṅgha in 2014 in England, in the lineage of Venerable Ajahn Chah of the Thai Forest tradition. His upajjhāya is Venerable Chao Khun Phra Videsabuddhiguṇa (Ajahn Amaro). He now lives in Sri Lanka.

Bhikkhu Akiñcano
With the Right Understanding
ISBN 978 94 6090 017 4
224 pages, paperback
€15,- (excl. shipping)

now available at www.pathpresspublications.com
At the risk of feeling like I'm having a conversation with myself, I've ordered the book and look forward to reading it. At that point, I will be happy to share useful tidbits and answer any questions about the book that people may have.

:reading:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

form
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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by form » Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:58 pm

"Focus all your awareness on your breath. Feel the sensations in your body. And yet one cannot help but wonder: why do we not find these instructions in the Pali Suttas?"

Isn't the the content of the first two sentences found in anapasati sutta?

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:39 am

Greetings Form,
form wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:58 pm
Isn't the the content of the first two sentences found in anapasati sutta?
No. That's just how meditation teachers adapt the suttas and convert them into a "technique". Anapanasati is better understood as mindfulness with the breath, not mindfulness of the breath.

(That's my answer anyway. When I receive the book, if I see anything that specifically addresses that point, I'll let you know)

Kind regards.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

form
Posts: 1328
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 3:23 am

Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by form » Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:53 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:39 am
Greetings Form,
form wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 11:58 pm
Isn't the the content of the first two sentences found in anapasati sutta?
No. That's just how meditation teachers adapt the suttas and convert them into a "technique". Anapanasati is better understood as mindfulness with the breath, not mindfulness of the breath.

(That's my answer anyway. When I receive the book, if I see anything that specifically addresses that point, I'll let you know)

Kind regards.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Thank you.

I was reading Bodhi's book yesterday on mindfulness. On the part on breath, he states note breath long, note breath short, etc. These account are almost identical to the sutta. That is also not right? Feel the body will have many versions of explanation.

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:59 am

Greetings Form,
form wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:53 am
I was reading Bodhi's book yesterday on mindfulness. On the part on breath, he states note breath long, note breath short, etc. These account are almost identical to the sutta. That is also not right?
I don't know exactly what Bhikkhu Bodhi said, word for word, but what you have said here aligns with the suttas.

"Focus all your awareness on your breath" is a different matter altogether, and is more geared towards immersion (samatha) than understanding and seeing things as they really are (vipassana). As per the summary of the text "only with the right understanding can there be anything that deserves to be called ‘Buddhist meditation’". Any "technique" that does not have Right View as a pre-requisite, is going to lead only to frustration and fruitlessness.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

form
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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by form » Thu Sep 26, 2019 1:31 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:59 am
Greetings Form,
form wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 12:53 am
I was reading Bodhi's book yesterday on mindfulness. On the part on breath, he states note breath long, note breath short, etc. These account are almost identical to the sutta. That is also not right?
I don't know exactly what Bhikkhu Bodhi said, word for word, but what you have said here aligns with the suttas.

"Focus all your awareness on your breath" is a different matter altogether, and is more geared towards immersion (samatha) than understanding and seeing things as they really are (vipassana). As per the summary of the text "only with the right understanding can there be anything that deserves to be called ‘Buddhist meditation’". Any "technique" that does not have Right View as a pre-requisite, is going to lead only to frustration and fruitlessness.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Yeah. Bodhi is a good teacher.

I think I got what u mean regarding not aligned with sutta content now.

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by char101 » Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:45 am

Is the author name Nick Dwyer or Marc Weber, because in https://www.akincano.net/ZurPerson.html it is Akincano Mark Weber? Also, it seems that he is no longer a bhikkhu.

Personally I prefer something that has been verified to be working in practice (that is, the word of a teacher) rather than an interpretation of the sutta. It is after all, limited to the interpretation of the author. True interpretation, comes from realization. In fact, I think it is a trait of a person that have realized it himself, to be able to write something new that is not written in the sutta.

There are some blogs by the author (https://pathpress.wordpress.com/dhamma-articles/) which may give some preview into his phenomenology approach to the sutta.

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:07 am

char101 wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 2:45 am
Is the author name Nick Dwyer or Marc Weber, because in https://www.akincano.net/ZurPerson.html it is Akincano Mark Weber? Also, it seems that he is no longer a bhikkhu.
It's a different Akiñcano.
“Keep to your own pastures, bhikkhus, walk in the haunts where your fathers roamed.
If ye thus walk in them, Māra will find no lodgement, Māra will find no foothold.”
— Cakkavattisīhanāda Sutta

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by chownah » Thu Sep 26, 2019 4:33 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Wed Sep 25, 2019 10:35 pm
Greetings,

I have just received notification of a new Path Press Publication that will certainly be of interest to some amongst us...

Bhikkhu Akiñcano
With the Right Understanding
Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas
Buddhist meditation is usually taught as a set of techniques. Focus all your awareness on your breath. Feel the sensations in your body. And yet one cannot help but wonder: why do we not find these instructions in the Pali Suttas?

.....
.....
Of course this is all preliminary in that you are waiting for the book to arrive....but....just a quick question: Isn't the technique to focus awareness on your breath in the suttas?.....breathe in long, breathe in short, breathe in sensistive to the entire body, breathe in calming fabrications,etc.
chownah

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:14 am

Greetings Chownah,

I think I described the distinction here but if you're talking about something different, please let me know.

Thanks.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by Volo » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:11 am

Buddhist meditation is usually taught as a set of techniques. Focus all your awareness on your breath. Feel the sensations in your body. And yet one cannot help but wonder: why do we not find these instructions in the Pali Suttas?

Instead of doing what the teachers recommend, what if we were to ask the following question: What are the underlying assumptions that are required in order for these meditation instructions to be intelligible? With this question we enter the domain of phenomenology. Enquiring in this way, it becomes clear that the Buddha’s teachings have been ‘naturalized’, hijacked by and incorporated within the modern scientific worldview that today reigns supreme. Furthermore, it becomes apparent how dangerous these assumptions are, for they obscure the fact that the Dhamma is entirely concerned with our understanding of things.

By (1) providing a close analysis of the Pāli Suttas and (2) adopting a phenomenological attitude and articulating this as explicitly as possible, drawing on the writings of influential phenomenological thinkers such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty, this collection of essays gives priority to these two conditions for the arising of right view. Only with the right understanding can there be anything that deserves to be called ‘Buddhist meditation’.
Arising of right view based on Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty? :?

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:20 am

Greetings,
Volo wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:11 am
Arising of right view based on Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty? :?
I suspect it's the part before the comma that's essential, and that the part after the comma is simply used as a means of juxtaposing the phenomenological viewpoint against the ontological Abhidhammic/Mahavihara worldview of (insert drumroll and booming voice) "ULTIMATE REALITIES!".

But again, I haven't read it yet, so that's conjecture... although that's how the works of existential philosophers have typically been used in Path Press Publications.

:ugeek:

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by chownah » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:25 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 5:14 am
Greetings Chownah,

I think I described the distinction here but if you're talking about something different, please let me know.

Thanks.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Again, this is all preliminary in that you have not yet read the book....
Concerning:
Buddhist meditation is usually taught as a set of techniques. Focus all your awareness on your breath. Feel the sensations in your body. And yet one cannot help but wonder: why do we not find these instructions in the Pali Suttas?
.....I think that these instructions (focus all your awareness on your breath etc.) are in fact found in the pali suttas so I for one CAN avoid wondering why they are not in the suttas because it seems to me that they ARE in the suttas as I have indicated......of course these instructions are only a part of the process of meditative enquiry taught by the buddha so one might (for instance) ask why the secular presentation of "buddhist meditation" only teaches this one part (whose instructions are infact to a certain degree presented in the suttas) and do not include the rest ....but to say that "focus all you awareness......etc." are not found in the suttas is incorrect at least from my point of view as I have explained in my previous post.

I hypothesize that perhaps the secular instuctors stop in their teaching where they do is because the part they teach IS in fact spelled out fairly well in the suttas and elsewhere while to go much farther takes one into territory where it is not spelled out so clearly and is thus beyond the grasp of most secular teachers knowledge base......I guess....don't know for sure.....
chownah

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:34 am

Greetings Chownah,
chownah wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:25 am
.....I think that these instructions (focus all your awareness on your breath etc.) are in fact found in the pali suttas so I for one CAN avoid wondering why they are not in the suttas because it seems to me that they ARE in the suttas as I have indicated.....but to say that "focus all you awareness......etc." are not found in the suttas is incorrect at least from my point of view as I have explained in my previous post.
I suspect we're reading the suttas differently, and of course, you're welcome to understand it as you see it.

Let's just say that if you "focus all your awareness on your breath" then you've got no reflexive awareness of what awareness itself is doing, and it's what awareness (or perhaps, moreso "attention") is doing, that is described in the texts. The suttas do not speak of abandoning that reflexive awareness, rather they actually emphasise it... take this from the Anapanasati Sutta, bolded for emphasis...
"Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.'
Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.'
I'm guessing that was the sutta that you thinking of as substantiating your view? If there is another, do share.
chownah wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:25 am
.of course these instructions are only a part of the process of meditative enquiry taught by the buddha so one might (for instance) ask why the secular presentation of "buddhist meditation" only teaches this one part (whose instructions are infact to a certain degree presented in the suttas)....
If by that you're asking why they ignore that Right View is the forerunner of the path, and somehow think that Right Meditation will give rise to Right View... then yes, I wonder that too. I suspect the author of the book might address that in some form or another.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

“Truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” (Flannery O'Connor)

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Re: Bhikkhu Akiñcano - "With the Right Understanding" (Phenomenological Explorations of the Pāli Suttas)

Post by chownah » Thu Sep 26, 2019 10:30 am

retrofuturist wrote:
Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:34 am

Let's just say that if you "focus all your awareness on your breath" then you've got no reflexive awareness of what awareness itself is doing, and it's what awareness (or perhaps, moreso "attention") is doing, that is described in the texts. The suttas do not speak of abandoning that reflexive awareness, rather they actually emphasise it... take this from the Anapanasati Sutta, bolded for emphasis...
"Breathing in long, he discerns, 'I am breathing in long'; or breathing out long, he discerns, 'I am breathing out long.'
Or breathing in short, he discerns, 'I am breathing in short'; or breathing out short, he discerns, 'I am breathing out short.'
I find it interesting that the bolded parts which you take to mean that all of your awareness SHOULD NOT be focused on the breath are exacty the part which I take to mean that all of your awareness (at that stage of the development of concentration) SHOULD be focused on the breath. I paraphrase the text to show how I interpret it: "When you are breathing in long you should keep all your awareness on the breath by noting that you are breathing in long."

Also, I looked at thanissaro's instruction for anapanasati and his instruction for how to begin is pretty much the same as I have seen non-buddhists instruct in their classes....I first learned breath meditation from a non-buddhist and what I was taught was pretty much what thanissaro said.....the big exception was that I was taught to follow the breath at the abdomen.

Have you ever seen or taken instruction in breath meditation from a non-buddhist?
chownah

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